Friday 16 August 2013

English Vinglish - What I Learnt!

I was watching this movie with Sridevi playing the lead character. She was playing a homemaker who did not know the English language and was made fun of by her family members because of that. Then came an invitation from her sister, who was living in New York, to attend her daughter’s wedding. The husband and children were to travel later, and Sridevi had to go alone. So off she went in spite of her fears and inhibitions.

I am not trying to tell the whole story here, but just setting the context to what I am trying to point at. I remember one scene in the movie where Sridevi was trying to order some food in a cafe. She was in a queue and as she approached the lady at the counter she was feeling nervous. The lady at the counter being angry did not do much to improve the situation.

She asked for something to eat, and she was asked what she wanted. She said “vegetarian.”

So the next question was something like, “What in vegetarian?”

She was given 3 options out of which she recognised one word – “sandwich.”

Then she was asked, “What do you want in your sandwich – cheese, tomato or onion?”

She wasn’t sure and finally managed to say, “cheese.”

Then she was asked, “Would you like any drink?”

She said, “Water.”

“Still or sparkling?”

By the way, most people in India wouldn’t know what “sparkling water” is. We know it as “soda.”
She was confused, so she said, “plain water.”

Now the lady at the counter did not understand. So she asked about coffee and gave 3 options, “Americano, Cappuccino, Latte.”

Sridevi said, “Nescafe.”

After a lot of confusion she ended up bumping onto another customer and some food fell on the floor. Some plates broke as well. She ran out of the cafe.

So, is it only about the English language? The basic words for communication were spoken. But still they were not understood. The world is getting more complicated by the day. There was only water, and now we have “sparkling water.” There was only coffee, and now we have “Americano, Cappuccino, Latte.” Sridevi simply wanted water. What she got back were multiple options and did not get the water.

But what I liked most in the movie was the motivation that Sridevi got to learn the English language. Instead of complaining and whining about the fact that she studied in vernacular medium, she joined a 4 weeks class to learn the language. We saw an inspired lady who put in a lot of efforts in spite of being in an unknown city and also with a tremendous amount of responsibility to help with wedding of her sister’s daughter.

Although this was only a film, there are quite a few people in this world who are as inspired and motivated to learn, improve and grow as Sridevi’s character in the film. If you can be one of them you could achieve all the success and happiness that you want.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Independence Day - what does it mean today?

Independence is a term that has a different connotation today in the political perspective than what it was in 1947 when India got her freedom from the colonial rulers. The old school thought process may criticize the behavior of the present generation of Indians, however, people who understand the inevitability of change would speak otherwise.

To understand this better we can simply observe what happens today, the 15th of August. What does this day mean to the present youth?

History tells us a lot of stories. The freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for a better tomorrow lived in circumstances that the youngsters today would not be able to fathom. The times have changed. Those people then did what they felt was right, they did what made them happy. They lived on ideals that seems to have vanished with time.

I woke up today morning and picked up the newspaper. The front page had the digits that made me feel a tad happy - "15." As I read on, the happiness changed to awfulness. It wasn't only "15" but it was "15%." A company is offering a 15% cashback if you buy products from their store. Read the "terms and conditions" in the fine print and you would feel worse. I flipped through pages and found more advertisements than news. Most of the adverts were using "15th August" as a platform to offer discounts and sell their products. There were many adverts of restaurants as well.

The restaurants reminded me of another pastime of urban Indians on Independence Day - eating out. Go to any restaurant on this day and you would find it difficult to get a seat. People love to hog on this day. They wear some good clothes, call their friends, eat, and do some shopping. Later in the day everybody is back to their daily grind of "facebook".

This is freedom - the independence that makes everyone happy. There is no restaurant which says "Dogs and Indians not allowed" like it was supposedly so during the colonial rule. 

The selflessness, the sacrifices, the patriotism - they are all the ideals that existed in the past. Today even these words are used by people of all classes and categories for their self-interests. It has become so difficult to differentiate between the genuine and the fake use of these ideals.

By the way, tomorrow is 16th of August. Be rest assured that all the show of patriotism that you would see today would completely disappear tomorrow.

I would like to pray for my country. May we get the strength of doing something for our country beyond all the feelings of hatred, discrimination and stereotyping. May we understand that India is a country, and its image and respect is created by its citizens. May we celebrate Independence on all days in the year throughout our lives.

I wish you a Happy Independence Day!

Friday 9 August 2013

Winning is a habit, so is losing!

I come across so many people everyday. Starting from the cab drivers to supposedly well-to-do folks working in multi-national companies. But these differences in professions or status in society doesn't make any difference in habits of people. Habits are very specific to individuals, it has nothing to do with the profession or status in society.

We tend to connect habits with lifestyle, earning, etc. Those "common" habits are what the weak pick up. These are the people who simply go with the flow. Habits define them, they don't define habits.

In my first book that I published a couple of months back, I have created characters who have been categorized into two groups - "One" and "Too Many." I have seen very few people who have the attitude of "doing more than what they are paid for" while most people are the regular "whiners."

You may come across that character in your life who has a habit of complaining about anything and everything in life. They will also tell you why nothing can be done in this world. They will create a lock for every door.

"That target is too high, it cannot be achieved."

"I don't think I can do that."

"What's the use? We are here only for sometime, why try to do so much?"

These are just some of the examples of the "Too Many" who have the habit of being a loser.

The "One" is what the word represents - a small number. People who take challenges and understand the importance of personal development. They are the ones who give their best shot and most of the time come out winners. On the occasions of failures they don't lose heart to join the negative group. They don't complain and blame. They analyse why they failed and move on to try again, this time to achieve something even better!

Your habits define who you are and who you will become. Remember, if your habits control you, you lack will power. If you control your habits you have greater control over your life and your goals. That is when you can build that habit of being a winner in everything that you do!

Friday 17 May 2013

Intelligent vs Stupid

While reading the editorial section of "The Telegraph" a few days back I noticed an interesting quotation under the "Scripsi" section - "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence. - Charles Bukowski."

I took some time to think about this statement and to give it some meaning. It could be easy to misunderstand what Charles was trying to say. I mean, we may interpret it as "all people who have doubts are intelligent and all people with confidence are stupid!"

But I don't think the meaning intended was this. Else I would be confidently termed "stupid" by the intelligent folks (they would have doubts over my intelligence)!

Although being intelligent does not mean lacking confidence, I kind of agreed with the "doubts" part. People who are intelligent (who can think and apply facts and logic, and balances the right amount of intuition perhaps) do end up having doubts about different subjects. The intelligent are not bound to believe everything that is shown or said, they would have doubts and therefore would want to verify before believing. For example, if you tell me that the ministers of our state are lying (or are truthful); I would not believe you on face-value. I would have doubts that need to be cleared with evidence, only then would I be able to take a stand.

Unlike the stupid, who confidently accept whatever comes their way. I look at the many "shared" stories in Facebook and wonder why that was shared in the first place! There are so many stories that are fake, one little search in the internet and it will tell you the truth. At least you get an idea of what is going on! But no, the stupid are confident that whatever is being shared must be the truth!

So when a man you know comes to you and says that if you invest money with his company you will become "Richie Rich" you believe him? Many people have, as news suggests. Many amongst them also believe that they will get their money back even after the owner of the company has siphoned off all the money and has made headlines in the media (I am leaving out the details of political involvement here).

From day to day life to the far more serious political situation in the country, the intelligent always "doubt" and verify before believing. The stupid continue to argue illogically and with "confidence" and may end up voting the wrong people to power (sometimes, unknowingly, they may vote the right people to power as well)! The balance is not right, it seems, and I now wonder if the tides will ever turn towards the "doubtful" way.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Which comes first - Chicken or Egg?

The age-old question applies very well in your job as well. How? That is exactly what I am trying to explain in this post.

I have always heard this question about getting that promotion or the hike in a job, or rather not getting it! "My boss doesn't like me" and "I am demotivated" - this is all crap for me. Absolute nonsense these whining are! Why?

Consider the fact that all that complaining does not work. If you really don't like the job, or your boss, just quit and get another one. But if you have hopped into your third or fourth job, at the least, and find it all the same, then isn't there something wrong with you?

Believe it or not, it is human nature to whine and complain. Only a few can come out of this cycle of no gain. The ones who do are the people who really care more about their personal development based on the work they contribute for their team. These are people who believe in "doing a little bit more than what they are paid for."

So, why the chicken and egg question? Well, shall I first be promoted to a position and then I prove how good I can handle it, or shall I first work in a manner so as to take up responsibilities and prove my mettle before I am formally promoted to that position? The answer varies from person to person, but in my observation, I have seen most people preferring the first option.

I have always believed and propagated the latter - prove your worth before you are promoted. That way nobody can question your rise as well, and you know very well yourself that you have been doing the work of that position well anyway.

So, it is your choice - chicken first or egg first - whatever meaning you give to them!

Saturday 4 May 2013

Coffee Time, Cafe Time! Musings of a Cafe Lover!

The heat was evident from the sweat that covered my forehead. I took off the laptop bag from my shoulders and put it on a chair. Another chair was for me to rest. I took out my handkerchief (a must in summer in a place like Kolkata) and dabbed my forehead to remove the sweat. Once I was comfortable I took out my laptop and placed it on the table.

I was wondering what people do in a cafe. By the way, I love Cafe Coffee Day because of various reasons. One of the most important reasons being a place where ideas are brewed along with coffee. Most of my business ideas and strategies till now have been developed in cafes, mostly in CCD. I have my own little superstitions as well regarding the choice of cafes. I specifically like the one in Park Street, and the second priority is the one in Camac Street. I have no reasons except that I feel I get more ideas in these two cafes, and Manish, my business partner, agrees.

But there is more than getting business ideas. It is about the humdrum of life. People of all kinds are there, and they spend a significant amount of time there. There are happy lovers and sad lovers, folks from the corporate world discussing work, senior citizens enjoying a couple of hours of togetherness in a new environment, friends hanging out, and so many more! Then there are people like us who need inspiration and content to write.

It is a brilliant concept, I mean the cafe. It has become an integral part of my life. Whenever I have to meet someone outside an office environment, and we wouldn't want to eat much, the only thought is the cafe.

I switched on my laptop. It took a few minutes to boot. Meanwhile I walked to the ordering counter and ordered for a cold coffee (I really need something cold in this summer heat). The people here know me as a customer who likes to spend a significant amount of time in the cafe. They are friendly and helpful, with a wonderful smile on their faces. Nothing beats good behavior and excellent customer service!

As they create the wonderful “Tropical Iceberg” for me, I now need to get into what I am here for, writing my second book.

I would love to read about your cafe experiences, so please leave a comment below. And, Happy Coffee Time, my friend!

Saturday 27 April 2013

The Secret of Failure!

Now you must be thinking that I have gone crazy writing this. Everyone talks about the "Secrets of Success" and here I am writing just the opposite. But I do believe that it is necessary to know about failure and what causes it to understand our own conditioning better. It is like the root cause which when removed automatically acts in the favor of the opposite of failure.

A few days back in the Indian Premier League (for the unaware, it is an over-hyped cricket tournament played in India), one team scored a massive amount of runs courtesy a man I named the "Godzilla of Cricket." Chris Gayle, the batsman from West Indies, had everything going for him that day. But when the opposition came out to bat, there wasn't much to see. They weren't even half of what the previous team was in that game. As much as Chris Gayle enjoyed playing, the whole of the opposition team came out to bat with "no hopes" written on their face and everywhere else.

In one of my training programs (I am a behavioral skills trainer, for your information) I found a group of managers seated like egoistic kings who knew-it-all and staring at me. Barring a few learners, the rest were a lot that I do find in many places, and they remind me of the story of the king who walked naked, fooled by a clever tailor. What was more interesting though was when their boss walked into the room to see how things were going. I suddenly saw a group of people united by a spirit to learn and implement. Lots of questions came up from a group which was disinterested just a few minutes back. And when the boss spoke, there was silence. As if the crowd was saying, "You are the boss, and the boss is always right!"

There was a young man who once came up to me asking for some advice. He said that he felt demotivated. He never got a pat on the back on having those small successes, but always received reprimands when he made those few errors. I said, "Why don't you talk to your supervisor? He may not be aware of your state of mind." The answer was prompt and as I had expected. "Nope, I can't do that. That would be digging my own grave!"

Well, you have it. The secret of failure is "Fear!" Yes, my friend, believe it or not, it is. Fear is our most constant companion who ensures that we do not take the risks. Fear breaks our will to do things. Fear helps us maintain the status quo. Fear holds us back from everything that we are capable of doing.

Deep inside you there is a voice that says that human will is so strong that it can achieve the impossible. It says that you have it in you too. Then speaketh the companion. Fear says, "Are you sure?" And you console yourself with a lie, "I am happy the way it is, why take a chance?" Fear of the unknown? As if you can see the future to be positive while maintaining the status quo!

Sunday 10 March 2013

Why Am I Alive?

Life is a set of fleeting happenings, numerous in number, and so different from each other. As we move from one day to another, we take steps forward into what is the unknown. Mostly it is about hope and the will to do better, and sometimes it is despair, and absolute hopelessness.

Have you ever thought what your life is about? Why are you living the life that you are right now? Does it have a meaning? Why have you been doing whatever you have been doing all these years? What is next, and why?

I observe nature and all that lies within its realm. The trees, the animals and all creatures – everything seems to be living in some form of cycle. A pattern is repeated again and again without anyone really taking the time to think about it. What is the use in thinking anyway? The pattern would remain the same; the cycle will not change either.

Herein lies the interesting and somewhat different animal called human being. They have changed the way nature has been operating for years. We think more than what we were supposed to! Or at least many people do. But even with all the so-called intelligence and the higher ability to comprehend things better, sometimes even we are lost in the cycles and patterns that engulf us. The everyday noise makes us deaf, the rush and grind makes us blind.

I feel good whenever I get the time to think. I step back from the everyday routine and become human. Yes, otherwise it is mostly about living the set pattern. I ask myself questions that I mostly cannot answer. But what makes me happy is the fact that I can sit back, relax and ponder over those meanings which I cannot understand. Sometimes I get a few answers and I feel happy.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Get Up!

What do you do when you are feeling that you are losing? Everything you try fails again and again. There seems to be no sunshine in life. What do you do?

Give up?

The easiest thing to do is to give up!

As I am writing this right now, I am in a state of failing again and again in some of the new things that I am trying to do. It prompted me to think. What am I going through right now? How long will this last? Forever?

Something inside me answered back, "No!"

Nothing lasts forever. Be it good or bad. That is the wonderful aspect of life. Won't it get boring otherwise?!

So when faced with difficult circumstances and many failures in a row, we need to tell ourselves to get up, brush off the dust, and walk ahead. Learn from your failures and keep trying. 

Life is about experimentation, about endeavours. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it is the man who doesn't give up is the one who wins the game of life.